The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings—

The handsome blue/purple cabbages that we grew on the Free Farm were really the Carnival stars of the Free Farm Stand. Besides being a total miracle, everyone that saw them immediately sensed that something special was going on, and that somehow this impressed on folks that we were really farmers after all. I am utterly speechless as to how we grew such perfect things and I am looking forward to learn how they taste.  The fava beans too played a major role on the Free Farm Stand table/stage. I had picked about fifty pounds  of them (it took me hours) and a man came by with 10 more pounds of favas that he grew in his backyard (he said he had eaten about 20 pounds already).  We also had 58lbs of oranges from Stanford Glean and collards and lettuce from the farm. Cristina also brought by some onions and other things from some garden (the Secret Garden?). I brought some Meyer lemons from our backyard tree. At some point in the day Danny from Sour Flour showed up with about 18 loaves of warm whole wheat sour dough bread that he just baked to give out at the stand. What a beautiful treat! It was sort of crazy with all the Acme bread we had, but this bread was not only whole grain, fresh from the oven, and baked on 24th Street with love (how can you get more  local?). Plus the more Danny comes around people can find out that he teaches people how to bake their own bread and that is what we like the most…when the oil runs out, we will be growing our own grains and baking our own bread in cob solar ovens and breaking bread at the communal table.

We also had one of the most full plant  tables of all times. I have so many seedlings right now to give away and if anyone needs some starts they can contact me or come to the Free Farm on our workdays.

Here is the part I talk not about kings nor queens (though some may be) but saints in our midst. As I reported I had been contacted about the Stonestown Mall Farmer’s Market needing someone to pick up the leftover produce on Sundays. It turns out Angie knew another nurse at Tom Waddell public health clinic that lived near there and was already picking up the unsold food from Trader Joes on Sundays and offered to pick up the left over produce for us. She has been making treats for the patients in the women’s clinic she works in which everyone really appreciates. She’ll go through cases of challenged strawberries and make fruit cups with yogurt or make crouton snacks with the stale bread. She does this on her own time on top of her regular job.

So this week she made the first trip there and picked up a truck full of mostly local organic produce. She gave us some of her excess Trader Joe produce that included bananas that were neither local nor organic, but were very popular and more bread. She showed up around 2pm or so after we had run pretty low. Maybe it was because of Carnival that we had a steady stream of people coming throughout the day and we really had no produce left around 3pm. I have to confess that as much as I want to support growing our own produce I am still obsessed with giving away beautiful  organic produce from our local farmers at the end of their market day. When she showed up she told me they said “where have you been we have been waiting for someone to pick up our surplus”.

I see people like her or Danny as saints or angels that are everywhere working quietly, doing their special goodness in the world.  Not that all of us can’t become saints in our own way, it just takes being really passionate about something and supporting our passions by translating them into action.

It is wonderful to note that the Free Farm Stand and the Free Farm are generating a lot of excitement and that we are getting a lot of great volunteers.  A day doesn’t go by when I don’t feel appreciation for our volunteers that are keeping these projects growing and going. In a world that today is drowning in negative news at least we can make our own news positive and upbeat and hopeful. I am currently reading a inspiring library book called Jesus Freak by Sara Miles (who runs St. Gregory’s Food Pantry among other things). I picked it up because I was told by a friend that I was mentioned in the book. It turns out she is quite a story teller and though her facts are not quite correct, the spirit of what she says is right on.  She and I have had similar experiences in the world of food programs and I liked  reading her experiences of how to deal with problem people, be they volunteers or guests. What inspires me most about the book though is understanding her take on institutional religion, specifically Christianity and Jesus, something I have been distant from in my own life. The message of all religions and great teachers is pretty much the same and simple, and includes feeding, healing, forgiving (and the part I haven’t read yet raising the dead).

On Saturday at the Free Farm we started a small produce stand and gave away some of the produce grown there. About 16 pounds of cabbage, collards, and lettuce  were distributed, as well as oranges from Stanford Glean. One of the sweetest things that happened while I happen to be there is that old woman who lived in the building next door came by with a cabbage dish she had made. She said in broken English that she loved cabbage and that whenever she got more cabbage she could make more of this dish because it was quick and easy to make. She took the cabbage and collards we had given her and some carrots and cut them up and then poured boiling water of them to make them wilt. Then she added I think a little vinegar, sugar, and salt. It was pretty tasty.

Like I said above I really harvested the fava beans this week. One box came from 18th and Rhode Island and the other came from Esperanza Garden. It was great working in Esperanza again, a garden I stopped working in because I am just too spread out. Alana told me they could use some more regular volunteers to keep it open more often.

Next Saturday we are shortening the work day that will go until lunch and then we will close. A number of us want to attend Griff’s ordination to the Transitional Diaconate at Grace Cathedral at 2pm.  Griff has been missing from action the last two weeks or so because of his church work. We also miss Poncho who got invited to care take of a friend’s farm in Arizona for a month. He will also be doing some civil disobedience work there in protest of the horrible anti-immigrant  law they passed there. I am keeping him in my prayers.

This past weekend was busy with activity. On Fridays I show up at the Permaculture garden on 18th and Rhode Island and have been mostly harvesting produce.  We are running out of food to harvest there and we will have to wait until the things we recently put in the ground grow until we can get more produce. That garden has a plan that seems set in Permaculture stone and it seems the philosophy behind it is to be mainly a site for teaching the principles of Permaculture rather than having as a goal producing a lot of food  (while educating the public at the same time). I think it is similar to the goal of the Hayes Valley Farm, to be mostly an educational site with growing food being secondary.  To be honest I am delighted and inspired that we have planted so many trees there (perhaps as many as 72) and can’t wait until they start producing a lot of fruit (there are peaches and apples on some trees already and a pepino dulce fruit).  However, I am a bit frustrated that we haven’t planted more quick growing food annuals like lettuce and greens everywhere.

It was also a dramatic Friday because the bees there had swarmed and it is truly a wonder to see the bees forming a ball around a queen hanging on a branch of a tree. What a magnificent thing.

After two hours on Potrero Hill I made it over to Treat Commons Community Garden. What a difference between the two sites in terms of physical design. A lot of food is grown in the boxes at the community garden and this year we are starting to pull together a good team of gardeners there to work in the common beds.

On Saturday the work day at the Free Farm was great, though I was pretty busy trying to make sure everyone had work to do. Three or four women harvested 80 lbs of collards, stir fry mix, baby gem lettuces, and lettuce lawn mix. The labyrinth is getting filled in with herbs and beans and our seedling operation is going full blast. We have grown a lot of seedlings, we also got a lot of seedlings by working with Jonathan and his Feel the Earth non-profit that held the Seeds on the Streets event last month, and Justin who teaches gardening at USF gave us some beautiful kale seedlings. Karla and Zach came by to pick up some of the seedlings for Zach’s backyard. Karla is helping organize a group of people that help people put gardens in their backyards. I think it is a terrific project because that is where a lot of great land is in the city to grow produce to feed ourselves and neighbors. If anyone needs seedlings come by our  farm on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Saturdays 10am-2pm or Wednesdays 10am-6:30pm (we for now have some volunteers who are keeping the farm open longer on Wednesdays during the summer). Talking about expanding hours, we are going to start working with Temple Emanu-El who ran Pea’h Garden for fifteen years in Home of Peace Cemetery in Colma, and they will be opening the farm one Sunday a month from 10am-noon starting June 6th.

Pancho and Mike and Sara picked up some donated soil and then went out and picked up a load of manure, one of our greatest needs, since we are growing soil as much as food. They dropped off the manure after the fundraiser for Welcome that was held at the farm after the workday. I was busy picking up produce so missed the event, but heard that it went well.

Sunday was another beautiful sunny but windy day at the Free Farm Stand. With eight boxes of hecka local produce I was very pleased and as always I meet a lot of nice people and neighbors. One of the eight boxes of hecka local produce was filled with gigantic lemons that the beautiful Stanford Glean crew dropped off at the farm on Saturday.  One neighbor came by with 5lbs of produce from their garden. Antonio taught his last garden workshop in the series that have been happening at the stand and we look forward to another series in the future.

our one artichoke with a halo from 18th and Rhode Island garden…I don’t know who got it

As much as I am trying to promote food growing as a way to deal with hunger and food insecurity in our neighborhoods, I like the idea of rescuing local organic produce from the dumpster or compost. I also like giving away food to people that can use it.  Recently I was contacted about the year old farmers market in the Stonetown mall on Sundays that doesn’t have anyone picking up their produce at the end of the day.  I have been trying to find someone that can pick it up on a regular basis and bring it to the stand on Sundays (I think pick up time would be at 12:30pm). I think they have 25-35 vendors.  If there are any reliable people out there that could pick up this produce on Sundays please let me know. Also, I may be able to come up with a truck or vehicle if someone can pick up but doesn’t have a vehicle.

I have been keeping up with a lot of the free projects that are popping up everywhere. A lot of things are the pay what you can model or the gift economy style of free. Though I remain a hard core free person, it is inspiring to see more of these attempts at moving away form our current model of economics. Here is one example that is familiar to me because I have visited one of these stores in the midwest: I just this morning heard about a woman in the East Bay who is going to start a “gift economy tiffen service” delivering free vegetarian or vegan meals to people.  Are we back in the sixties?

This leads me to my latest manifesting efforts. I get restless with projects I start and often my mind starts to wander into daydreaming activities. I remember a song by Neil Young who sang ”if you follow every dream you may get lost”.  I do think about that, but still I dream and then I try to follow my dreams, like trying to catch up to a friend you haven’t seen for a while that is walking down the street ahead of you. My dreams are usually familiar to me. I am back to day dreaming about community and living with people communally. It is really the next step in sustainability and keeping our work going in the long haul. People need to learn to live together in community, share income, share common dreams and visions, share common service work, meditate and do yoga together. I imagine a day of hard work together with friends like we did on Saturday and instead of at the end of the day going off in different directions, going home together and sharing dinner with each other , sharing the great experiences we had together in the communal home setting. And maybe bringing home a stranger or a person that is in need of a meal or a place to crash for the night.  I am sensing this  dream of communal households rising up next to our city farms may be the next thing coming around the corner. Maybe as soon as the economy collapses further. Someone suggested to me that while we are building a greenhouse at the farm (another dream I am trying to manifest), we build a house connected to it to shelter the farmers who would live together communally and prayerfully and no-till the soil together.